Roman theatre originated around 240 BC after their victory in the first Punic Wars. To celebrate they held public games and as part of these celebrations, comedy and tragedy were performed which included drama, music, and dance.
Around 364BC, entertainers were brought from Greece to Rome in order to amuse the population as well as in honour of the gods. They were required to perform theatrical pieces which often included mimes as well as elements of dance. The Romans loved these performances so much that they required even larger areas where this entertainment could take place such as circuses and arenas. With the performer’s gestures becoming more animated in order to get his meaning across to the larger audience, the loss of social prestige ensued. Dancers who were well respected by the Greeks, were seen as no better than slaves to the Romans.
Influences from other countries showed in the dances as people from Britain to Africa fell under Roman rule as the Empire expanded. These unusual styles of dance were never truly integrated into a style of dance that the Romans could call their own. Dance, to the Romans, was just a novelty and curiosity.